French Gov congratulates itself for operator investments

The French Government has decided it deserves to congratulate itself for the money which operators have spent on improving connectivity throughout the country.

The pat on the back comes as French regulator Arcep unveils the how the country is progressing into the digital economy. €9.6 billion was spent over the last 12 months, including spectrum purchases, which is a record for France, with the operators bringing in €36.2 billion over the period.

“Two years ago, I asked operators to break open their piggy banks, to rise to national coverage challenges, and enable France to catch up on the connectivity front,” said Sébastien Soriano, Chair of Arcep. “With an investment of €9.6 billion, we are seeing the sector’s growing commitment to making up for lost time, and coming in line with the country’s infrastructure needs.”

The presence of suitable infrastructure is of course critical for the success the digital economy, and while Arcep is congratulating itself on the progress made, the operators need to do more work. As you can see below, the investment is the highest proportion compared to total revenues for some time, however France is 27th on fixed superfast broadband and 21st on 4G coverage according to stats from the Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI).

France Graph

Looking forward over the next 12 months, the message from Arcep is clear; it needs to carry on the fantastic work it is doing, but operators need to make connectivity better. Part of this will include pooled investments to accelerate digital coverage in the country’s most sparsely populated areas, and a number of initiatives to ease the transition into 5G.

First and foremost will be a public consultation on the system for introducing 5G on the 26 GHz band, and a study on the methods for rearranging the 3.4 – 3.8 GHz band. Next will come a period of preparation of the frequency allocation procedure, as well as co-ordinating with public sector entities to create a positive regulatory environment for rollouts. All of this will hopefully result in commercial launches by 2020.

If you happen to want to congratulate the French for improving broadband coverage and FTTH penetration, send your post cards to the Arcep offices, addressed to Mr. Soriano. Don’t worry about the operators, according to Seb they didn’t do much anyway.

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